Nash, 20, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in May 2013, at the end of his senior year of high school. The Saginaw, Mich. native was a first-team all-state running back out of Carrollton High School. Nash underwent chemotherapy in the summer and fall of 2013 before joining the Central Michigan program, which honored his scholarship, in January 2014.
“This is a very difficult loss for our football program and entire Chippewa Athletic Program,” said CMU Director of Athletics Dave Heeke in a statement. “Derrick was an inspiration to us all and the fight he showed will never be forgotten. The incredible courage he exhibited in never allowing this terrible disease to dampen his positive outlook on life, is a tremendous representation of the type of man he was. Our thoughts and prayers are with Derrick's family and friends during this difficult time.”
A redshirt freshman, Nash never logged an in-game snap as a Chippewa but participated in spring practice and served as the team's honorary captain in the 2014 Popeyes Bahamas Bowl. He was scheduled to play last season before doctors found his leukemia had returned. He returned to chemotherapy, and earlier this month an MLive.com report indicated Nash was in poor condition.
“Derrick fought a great fight and he will never be forgotten,” CMU head coach John Bonamego said in a statement. Bonamego is in midst of his own battle with tonsil cancer. “I know everyone can learn a lot from the way he lived his life and the passion and enthusiasm he showed even during the tough times. We will do whatever we need to do to help his family get through this difficult time.
“I never got to coach Derrick on the football field, but I am proud to have been his coach the last few months. He is one of the toughest young men I have ever known and the determination and resolve he showed is how we will always remember him.”
Bonamego tweeted about Nash on Monday.
- Jeremy Woo